Now Ben-Hadad1 king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria2 and attacked it.
References for 1 Kings 20:1
He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, "This is what Ben-Hadad says:
'Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.' "
The king of Israel answered, "Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours."
The messengers came again and said, "This is what Ben-Hadad says: 'I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children.
But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.' "
The king of Israel summoned all the elders3 of the land and said to them, "See how this man is looking for trouble!4 When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him."
References for 1 Kings 20:7
The elders and the people all answered, "Don't listen to him or agree to his demands."
So he replied to Ben-Hadad's messengers, "Tell my lord the king, 'Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.' " They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.
Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust5 remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful."
References for 1 Kings 20:10
The king of Israel answered, "Tell him: 'One who puts on his armor should not boast6 like one who takes it off.' "
References for 1 Kings 20:11
Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking7 in their tents, and he ordered his men: "Prepare to attack." So they prepared to attack the city.
References for 1 Kings 20:12
Meanwhile a prophet8 came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, "This is what the LORD says: 'Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know9 that I am the LORD.' "
References for 1 Kings 20:13
"But who will do this?" asked Ahab. The prophet replied, "This is what the LORD says: 'The young officers of the provincial commanders will do it.' " "And who will start10 the battle?" he asked. The prophet answered, "You will."
References for 1 Kings 20:14
So Ahab summoned the young officers of the provincial commanders, 232 men. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all.
They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk.11
References for 1 Kings 20:16
The young officers of the provincial commanders went out first. Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, "Men are advancing from Samaria."
He said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive."
The young officers of the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them
and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen.
The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.
Afterward, the prophet12 came to the king of Israel and said, "Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring13 the king of Aram will attack you again."
References for 1 Kings 20:22
Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, "Their gods are gods14 of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.
References for 1 Kings 20:23
Do this: Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers.
You must also raise an army like the one you lost--horse for horse and chariot for chariot--so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they." He agreed with them and acted accordingly.
The next spring15 Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek16 to fight against Israel.
References for 1 Kings 20:26
When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.17
References for 1 Kings 20:27
The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what the LORD says: 'Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god18 of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know19 that I am the LORD.' "
References for 1 Kings 20:28
For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day.
The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek,20 where the wall collapsed21 on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid22 in an inner room.
References for 1 Kings 20:30
His officials said to him, "Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful.23 Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth24 around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life."
References for 1 Kings 20:31
Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says: 'Please let me live.' " The king answered, "Is he still alive? He is my brother."
The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. "Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!" they said. "Go and get him," the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.
"I will return the cities25 my father took from your father," Ben-Hadad26 offered. "You may set up your own market areas27 in Damascus,28 as my father did in Samaria." [Ahab said, ] "On the basis of a treaty29 I will set you free." So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.
References for 1 Kings 20:34
By the word of the LORD one of the sons of the prophets30 said to his companion, "Strike me with your weapon," but the man refused.31
References for 1 Kings 20:35
So the prophet said, "Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion32 will kill you." And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.
References for 1 Kings 20:36
The prophet found another man and said, "Strike me, please." So the man struck him and wounded him.
Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes.
As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, "Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, 'Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life,33 or you must pay a talent of silver.'
References for 1 Kings 20:39
While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared." "That is your sentence,"34 the king of Israel said. "You have pronounced it yourself."
References for 1 Kings 20:40
Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
He said to the king, "This is what the LORD says: 'You35 have set free a man I had determined should die.36 Therefore it is your life for his life,37 your people for his people.' "
References for 1 Kings 20:42
Sullen and angry,38 the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.
References for 1 Kings 20:43